US Government (DOT) Pamphlet
Available in quantities free from the NHTSA Safety Countermeasures Division
Your Bicycle Helmet
A Correct Fit
Fitting a Bike Helmet
Put the helmet on your head so it sits evenly between the ears and rests low on your forehead it should only be about 1 2 finger widths above your eyebrow.
Put foam pads inside the helmet so it feels comfortable but really snug. Usually, the helmet includes more than one size of foam pads that can be Velcroed inside the helmet for a better fit.
Tighten the chin strap as snugly as possible. Adjust the junction of front and back straps just under the ears and secure back strap without putting pressure on the front strap.
If all of this sounds confusing, follow the simple 5 Step Helmet Fit Test below.
A Good Helmet Fit is as important as wearing one...but it takes time. Allow as much as
a half hour to get a proper helmet fit. If fitting your child, don't try to "rush" it as they
are trying to go outside to ride. Do it while they're relaxed and you have plenty of time. Then
secure the adjustments so the helmet is ready for the next ride.
Five-Step Helmet Fit Test
With one hand, gently lift the front of the helmet up and back.
Helmet moves back to uncover the forehead.
Tighten front strap to junction. Also, adjust padding thickness and/or position, especially in back. Make sure chin strap is snug. If this doesn't work, the helmet may be to big.
With one hand, gently lift the back of the helmet up and forward.
Helmet moves forward to cover the eyes.
Tighten back strap. Make sure chin strap is snug. Also, adjust padding thickness and/or position, especially in front.
Put a hand on each side of the helmet and rock from side to side. Shake your head "no" as hard as possible.
Helmet slips from side to side.
Check padding on sides and make sure straps are evenly adjusted.
Open your mouth (lower jaw) as wide as possible, without moving your head. The top of your helmet should pull down.
Helmet does not pull down when opening your mouth.
Tighten chin strap. Make sure Tighten chin strap. Make sure junction is under each ear.
Check to see if the front edge of helmet covers your forehead. The front edge of the helmet should not be more than 1 to 2 finger widths from your eyebrows.
Helmet does not cover the forehead.
Position helmet no more than 1 to 2 finger widths above eyebrows. Tighten any loose straps. Make adjustments so the helmet stays over the forehead.
Have someone else test your helmet fit by doing the 5-Step Test outlined above. Hold your head still during the test. The helmet should pass each of the 5 steps.
Buying A Bike Helmet
Buy a helmet that has been tested and meets the uniform safety standard issued by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), or one or more of the voluntary bicycle helmet standards like ASTM, Snell or ANSI. You can tell this by looking for a label or sticker that says the helmet meets the standard.
Select a brand and size that fits well prior to any adjustments. Adjustable sizing pads are often included to help ensure a better fit. Buy one that's comfortable and attractive. You'll be more likely to wear it.
Buy a helmet that fits your child now, not a helmet to "grow into."
Replace any helmet that has been involved in a crash!
A bicycle helmet reduces the risk of serious head and brain injury by 85-88 per cent.
But it's not enough to simply buy and wear one - you need to make sure it fits properly.
US. Department of Transportation
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
People Saving People
Developed by the National Highway Traffic
Safety Administration Region 10
Harborview Injury Prevention
and Research Center (HIPRC)
Snell Memorial Foundation Seattle, WA
DOT HS 808 000
Permission to reprint with credit is hereby granted.
You can order up to 50 copiels of this pamphlet from the NHTSA Web site. They are often out of stock on some items. The site says that shipping takes four to six weeks, but our most recent order was shipped in less than a week.
This page was last revised on: November 18, 2004.